A Solo Traveler’s Guide to Los Angeles

From cocktails to karaoke, and from rollerblading to rooftop drinking, there are plenty of fun things to do on a solo adventure to LA
From cocktails to karaoke, and from rollerblading to rooftop drinking, there are plenty of fun things to do on a solo adventure to LA | © Eleni Mavrandoni / Alamy Stock Photo
Juliet Bennett Rylah

In a city as sprawling as Los Angeles, it’s easy to blend into the crowd, and it’s this sense of invisibility that makes it an ideal place to discover on your lonesome. Without anyone else to think about, you can experience natural wonders, treat yourself to some pampering and kick back – all on your own schedule.

Take a hike

Take a hike to get some exercise with great views of the city thrown in; shown here is Runyon Canyon

In Los Angeles, hiking is practically a religion. There is no finer way to get in some exercise, enjoy nature and take in a sweeping view of the city. Go for an urban hike by finding the secret staircases that are hidden all over LA, or trek into one of the public parks. Griffith Park has a variety of hikes of varying difficulties, while Barnsdall Art Park offers a relatively easy nature walk with the added bonus of passing the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House. Alternatively, you could opt for the most famous hike in Los Angeles, the Runyon Canyon Loop. It’s about 3mi (5km) in total, is relatively easy and provides great views of the Hollywood Sign (and possibly a celebrity sighting, if you’re into that kind of thing).

Go to the beach

Enjoy stunning views and relative solitude when you explore the coast near Malibu

You don’t need volleyball partners to have a good time at the beach. The people watching on Venice Boardwalk is best when you can stroll at your own pace, and you can always head to the water for more peace and quiet; or cruise to Malibu to find beautiful views and a much less tourist-filled experience.

Take a scenic drive

Take a scenic trip down the famous, twisting Mulholland Drive

If you’ve secured a rental for your trip, take a scenic drive through the winding canyon roads of LA or along the famous Mulholland Drive. At night, you can usually skip any traffic and enjoy a true joyride with your favorite music on the stereo and absolutely no one trying to make small talk. Just be careful – it’s beautiful, but twists like a serpent.

Hit the spa

Spend a day indulging yourself a spa to take your relaxation to the max

Sure, some people like to have group spa visits, but there’s no better place to unwind alone than a quality day spa. Sip cucumber water, zone out in the steam room, bake in the sauna or enjoy a massage or body treatment. One of LA’s most famous spas is WiSpa, a huge 24-hour Korean spa that offers numerous rooms, saunas, pools and a restaurant (some areas of the spa are nude, but don’t be shy). Otherwise, Los Angeles has numerous hotel spas that are just made for pampering, including the bright-white Ciel Spa at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, as well as smaller, independent offerings such as the Larchmont Sanctuary Spa in the very charming Larchmont Village.

Have a cocktail

Treat yourself to a cocktail on a rooftop bar such as this one at the Ace Hotel

Going out for beers with a friend is one thing, but treating yourself to a splendidly made cocktail is another. A favorite mixology spot is the fanciful Lock & Key in Koreatown, where guests are first presented with a wall containing dozens of door knobs. Only one door knob allows entrance to the bar, making it a bit of an Indiana Jones adventure just to get inside. Once through, a rotating menu of innovative cocktails – with ingredients such as black sesame and pear brandy – is available, as well as elevated bar bites. Alternatively, head downtown and enjoy a poolside cocktail at the Ace rooftop bar. Drink menus change regularly, revolving around nebulous themes such as birds or public transit. There’s usually also a frozen blended drink that goes far beyond your pedestrian piña colada. If tiki is your thing, you could drink like a local at Tiki-Ti, a tiny, cash-only tiki bar in Los Feliz that only fits a handful of patrons at a time. The drinks are strong, the snacks are free and the regulars are friendly.

Do karaoke by yourself

Sing karaoke without your friends judging you

Practice all your favorite karaoke jams by renting a private karaoke room at one of the studios in Koreatown or Little Tokyo (try Max Karaoke). Choose from hundreds of songs and belt them out to your heart’s content without anyone around to judge you. Once your tunes are up to speed, hit up Brass Monkey, R Bar or Backstage Bar and make some new friends.

Go to a museum

Take your time to explore the city’s art, such as this piece, ‘Urban Light’, outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Museums are perfect for alone time. See gorgeous pieces of thought-provoking modern art at LACMA, The Broad or the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA; wander the gardens of the Getty Center; or browse ancient artefacts at the Getty Villa. For something more macabre, check out the Museum of Death on Hollywood Boulevard, where letters from serial killers, mortuary ephemera and crime-scene photos creep guests out on a daily basis. For a bittersweet adventure, there’s the Museum of Broken Relationships, where each item comes from a person who has lost a loved one.

See an immersive play

Take in an immersive play, an activity that’s perfect for solo travelers

Los Angeles has a spectacular immersive theater scene, in which audience members are swept into the performances and often required to interact with the actors. These are perfect for solo travelers, as they allow guests to become fully enveloped in their narratives, and audience members who came in groups are often split up anyhow. Check to see what companies such as the Speakeasy Society, Just Fix It Productions, Scout Expedition Co. and Shine On Collective are showing, or check the immersive LA newsletter No Proscenium for a complete rundown of current shows.

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